What are Meta tags?

What are Meta tags and why are they so important for SEO?

HTML Meta Tags

Html Meta tags define the content of a Web page and are critical for communicating specific information with Search Engine crawlers. These tags represent the basis for Seo onpage optimization and are located in the <head> section of the website. Google will then be able to use that information to create rich snippets or enable sorting of search results.

Metadata Syntax

Metadata syntax translates into two attributes: “name” which identifies the type of information provided by the tag and “content” which describes the actual content of the tag.

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In addition to these two elements, a third “http-equiv” element can be added that tells the browser that these are HTTP connection header values (HTTP Header).

Among the features of Metadata we highlight three:

  • Uniqueness: each page on our site should have unique meta tags that accurately reflect its specific content. This scenario is particularly impactful for the title tag and description meta tag, which represent the “touch points” between our site and the visitor directly in Serp.
  • Length is another determining factor that should always be considered so as not to incur truncation in Serp. In this case, not the absolute number of characters should be considered but rather the “Pixels.” In fact, just think of how an uppercase “M” takes up more space than a lowercase “i,” and this condition becomes even more important if we follow the “Mobile First Indexing” orientation. To get around this concept, simply use Screaming Frog’s “SERP Snippet” tab to preview our Meta Title and Description in real time in both Desktop and Mobile versions.
  • Relevance: meta tags should be relevant to the content and not represent an attempt to over-optimize the content from a Seo perspective which , given Google’s latest algorithm could lead to penalties.

Meta Tags

  • Title tag: defines the title of the web page and is used by Search Engines in Serp Snippets. This attribute contributes to the definition of Ranking and must be optimized in terms of length, relevance otherwise it could be automatically modified by the algorithm do Google or truncated. Representing the first “Touch point” with the visitor, it must be explanatory about the content of the linked page to increase CTR.

A Best Practice for the Meta Title is the inclusion of the Main Keyword in the attribute preferably in first position. This does not mean bombarding the title with “Keywords” but providing a concise and relevant title with respect to the real goal of every Seo, the “Search Intent” of the document!

  • Meta Description: represents a summary about the content of the page. In terms related to traditional marketing, it represents the first “10 seconds” in which any site must present itself and make a good impression. Unlike Meta Title, it does not contribute to ranking but helps increase CTR.
  • Meta Robots Tag: represent suggestions on how Google and other Search Engines should behave when analyzing the crawled site. Among the most widely used Meta Robots are:
    • noindex: asks the Bot not to show the scanned item in its results.
    • nofollow: is used to keep links on the page from being followed by the Search Engine. Also very useful for not passing Link Juice to the linked page. If you want to inhibit a specific “Hyperlink” you should not use this attribute in the head but directly in the code of the desired link.
    • none: represents the major closure to the Search Engine Bot and corresponds to noindex, nofollow.
    • noarchive: does not allow Google to show a “cached copy” link on the Serp.
    • noimageindex: inhibits indexing of images in Serp.

Meta Tag Robots can be analyzed very easily with Screaming Frog through the “Directives” tab.

  • Hreflang: an attribute used for the internationalization of an online project; through this tag, language versions are presented to the Search Engine avoiding duplicate content and increasing the opportunities to be included in geo-localized Serps with one’s website.
  • Canonical: an undoubtedly valuable attribute that allows you to declare which content is primary and which is secondary (or duplicate) content. Not to be confused with Hreflang because while similar it represents different goals. It is recommended that “self canonical” be inserted on all pages (if not “canonicalized”.
  • Meta Keyword Tag: deprecated
  • Viewport tag: in a scenario increasingly linked to the “mobile” world, this attribute controls how content is displayed on mobile devices. With the introduction of “Mobile First indexing” it represents a crucial node for Search Engine ranking as well as ensuring proper UX.
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The width=device-width part sets the width of the page based on the width of the device screen (which will vary depending on the device).

The initial-scale=1.0 part sets the initial zoom level when the page is first loaded by the browser.

  • Open Graph tag: identifies how the content will be represented on social media once shared.
  • Meta Char Set: very important tag to encode the characters of a web page and not worsen the visitor’s UX and consequently increase the bounce rate. There are dozens of encodings but the most common are:
    • UTF-8 – Character encoding for Unicode;
    • ISO-8859-1 – Character encoding for the Latin alphabet.
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  • Meta Refresh Redirect: indication to the browser to create a redirect to a different page after a specific time interval. This scenario worsens the browsing UX and we recommend using a 301 (permanent) or 302 (temporary) redirect.
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Since Meta Refresh Redirect is a practice I discourage the puiopi identify it simply by using the filters in the Status code tab of the Seo Spider.

Seo Spider Tab